“The Abyss Gazes Also is brutal—full of brutal honesty, beautiful brutality, and even brutally sentimental. No holds barred poetry about cancer, relationships, the masks we wear, and the children we raise. Carstens does not shy away from the truth, no matter how ugly, no matter how brutal.”
—Mark Givens, Mung Being
“Wolfgang Carstens counterbalances intense meditations on death with poignant moments of personal and familial transformation which illuminate Carstens’ underlying message: we don’t have much time--live to the point of tears.”
—George Anderson, Bold Monkey
“In his new poetry book The Abyss Gazes Also, Wolfgang Carstens takes off on foot, through the dark forest leading to death’s doorstep, armed to the teeth with vengeance and a typewriter. Throughout the collection, Carstens spits in the face of darkness with his good-natured family and hometown friends by his side, ready to throw down at the turn of a page. The Abyss Gazes Also is a testament of one man’s adventure through his heart and skull, transforming printed words into blood and bone.”
—Lawrence Gladeview, So Much For The Beer Stains
“Wolfgang Carstens, I have read your book twice in thirty-six hours. This is strange. I don’t like poetry.”
—Gerhard Jason Geick, The Hungry Agnostic
“What gets me the most out of this collection are Carstens’ cautionary tale poems. His seize-the-day-or-else poems. Brilliant verbal alarms to shake us sleepyheads awake.”
—Rob Plath, A Bellyful of Anarchy
“I’ve always wanted to see it, but I never have until now: Nietzsche as Zen master, the Nietzschean anti-hero on a journey to enlightenment through the Zen parable of a poem. Carstens provides us with this archetype through his title poem,‘the abyss gazes also’ and his brilliant book of poems, The Abyss Gazes Also. The source of the archetype is an aphorism of Nietzsche’s, which Carstens refers to in the title poem: ‘i lost myself in looking backwards./i spent so much time staring/at a photograph/that i tripped on an imaginary pebble/and fell inside./like some Nietzschean anti-hero/i stared into the abyss so long/the abyss stared back into me.’ This book is worth purchasing for this one classic poem, but there is more.
The book is a series of Zen parables, but not traditional Zen, this is Nietzschean Zen, Western Zen, existential Zen, Zen noir. These parables are Trickster Coyote howling from the dark side of the moon. These parables combine myth with everyday life. Carstens is a brilliant poet, master storyteller, and superb creator of myths.”
—Tony Moffeit, Pueblo Blues
“The Abyss Gazes Also centers on the staggering weights of our death in such a way that makes the seemingly small events of our lives seem vivid, electrified, skyscraper size. Carstens writes poetry carrying life on its back into the center of a riot without fear.
I read this poetry in an oil refinery in New Jersey, my hands covered in filth and rust—the doomed mechanical hum of the place blocking out the sounds of any form of human or animal. While I read, however, I heard a strange orchestra of life over death that drowned out the noise around me. The best writing can do that. In itself, it’s a miracle cure that we get lucky and fall into like the ocean. When the book was over, the noise came back and I stunk like fuel. So, I read it again.”
—Bud Smith, The Unknown Show